Letter : Mohamad Yassine
My name is Mohamad Yassine and I am a student at Henry Ford Community College. I recently completed reading your novel The Giver (1993) for my English class. I must say that your book is quite phenomenal and such an informative piece of literature. I would, therefore, like to share some of my insights with you as well as seek clarification on a few issues.
After reading the novel, though fictional, I couldn’t help but draws comparisons with today’s society and family’s depiction. The society’s influence played such a major role in the lives of the characters. For instance, their spouses and children were chosen for them, and the job they did once they reached adulthood was also chosen for them. While many of us in this world of freedoms and rights would view this society as primitive and shudder at the thought of some faceless voice telling us what to do, while some people were in charge of many decisions we considered crucial such as choice of spouse, number of children to have or what career path to follow, the question that I ask myself is whether the freedoms we have are just an idea. For instance, in a world where legislators make decisions impacting our lives behind closed doors and even convince us that some of these legislations are for our good, how sure are we that our society is much different from the one Jonas lived in.
The novel depicts an enlightened society where mundane human issues such as fear, competition, jealousy, pain, joy, and choices are eliminated. This is, in essence, makes it easier to live in society as people are unburdened by the pressures that plague life. Nevertheless, I would like to ask you for clarification on a few issues. First, if the entire plan is to eliminate pain, what happens to the birthmothers of the children of the society? How unburdened are they by the prospect of having children whom they never get to bring up? Or is their pain and plight ignored just as the “unburdened ones” are brought into a life of subjugation sugarcoated as free from the miseries of life? Jonas seemed to be one of the few enlightened members of this society. He understood that there was nothing like a perfect world, that there were always casualties no matter what. I, therefore, contend that the pain and pleasures of life are what make life worth living. When we struggle and come out of it all, we appreciate life even more.
The second issue is the aspect of releasing people. I wonder what would give someone the right to decide who the useful members of society were and get rid of those who were not. While the system of release is much akin to the prison system, even prisoners have rights and they do not lose their right to life unless circumstances warrant so. Were there laws that necessitated this system and if so, who was the maker of these laws and what authority did they have?
Thank you for reading my letter and I hope that the insights I have are parallel to what the novel intended. It would be my pleasure to hear your thoughts on some of the issues I raised.